New Look, Same Great Taste

March 26, 2024

In 1985, Coca-Cola introduced “New Coke” in reaction to Pepsi’s “Pepsi Challenge,” an aggressive marketing campaign consisting of a blind taste test between Coca-Cola and Pepsi—and Pepsi was dominating. New Coke, which had a sweeter formulation than the original Coke, was found to outperform both classic Coke and Pepsi in top-secret taste tests.

As some of you may remember, the release of New Coke was not well received … at all.

An article from says that “New Coke left a bitter taste in the mouths of the company’s loyal customers. Within weeks of the announcement, the company was fielding 5,000 angry phone calls a day. By June, that number grew to 8,000 calls a day, a volume that forced the company to hire extra operators. ‘I don’t think I’d be more upset if you were to burn the flag in our front yard,’ one disgruntled drinker wrote to company headquarters. At protests staged by grassroots groups such as ‘Old Cola Drinkers of America,’ consumers poured the contents of New Coke bottles into sewer drains. One Seattle consumer even filed suit against the company to force it to provide the old drink.”

Further, “The outrage caught Coca-Cola executives by surprise. They had hardly made a rash decision unsupported by data. After all, they had performed 190,000 blind taste tests on U.S. and Canadian consumers. The problem, though, is that the company had underestimated loyal drinkers’ emotional attachments to the brand. Never did its market research testers ask subjects how they would feel if the new formula replaced the old one.”

In July of that year, Coca-Cola announced it would be returning to the original formula, dubbed “Coca-Cola Classic.” Coca-Cola president Donald Keough said in a statement, “Our boss is the consumer. We want them to know we’re really sorry.”

As you’ve probably already noticed, this month Healthcare Purchasing News has a new logo, tagline, and magazine design. Unlike New Coke, HPN’s “taste” will remain the same. HPN will continue to cover our many verticals including supply chain, sterile processing, infection prevention, surgical and critical care, environmental services, and more—everything you need to know about the healthcare ecosystem under one roof—just with a little more pizzazz.